Carolyn Hax: STD testing not about dirty/clean
Dear Carolyn: Last week I mentioned to my on-again off-again boyfriend that I considered getting tested for STDs while we were apart. (We broke up for about two months; I thought it was completely over and testing seemed wise, if a bit late in the process.) His reaction was very defensive and angry. He said it made him feel like I was accusing him of being unfaithful, having a disease, etc., which I was not. The reason I was considering was two of my overly paranoid friends kept encouraging me to, and I felt like it was a generally beneficial thing to do. Should I be concerned about his reaction? I haven’t been with anyone besides him while we have been on or off. – D.C.
Actually, you were accusing him of being unfaithful, having a disease, etc.
Before I get into that, I’d like to make a general plea to remove the “accusation” element from sexual-health conversations. Here’s what it takes to get infected with something: sex, once, with a non-virgin (or, heck, sex with a boundary-pushing virgin). Protection helps but isn’t perfect. So can we please shake hands that this is about positive/negative, not dirty/clean?
Now, about what you “mentioned.” If you thought both of you were perhaps being a bit lax about your health, given that either of you could have picked something up from a previous partner then I hope you said so. That’s a reasonable idea to share.
On the other hand, if you really just “mentioned” a test because your “paranoid friends” did – shifting blame to them instead of owning your own concerns – and you did so confident you were blameless in the event of a positive test, and you didn’t offer further thought or explanation, then you did indeed sucker-punch your guy. Better just to say what you’re trying to say.